Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United: Villas-Boas uses a much more cautious system

December 2, 2013
Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United: Villas-Boas uses a much more cautious system

Tottenham went ahead twice, but mistakes allowed Manchester United back into the game.

Andre Villas-Boas brought back Vlad Chiriches in defence, Mousa Dembele in midfield, plus Aaron Lennon and Nacer Chadli on the flanks.

David Moyes was still without Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick – Tom Cleverley partnered Phil Jones in the middle, despite the option of £27.5m signing Marouane Fellaini.

There was no major theme throughout this game, aside from its openness, but there were a variety of interesting tactical points.

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Dortmund 0-3 Bayern: superior squad proves crucial as Bayern extend their lead

November 26, 2013
Dortmund 0-3 Bayern: superior squad proves crucial as Bayern extend their lead

Pep Guardiola demonstrated Bayern’s tactical flexibility in the second half, introducing Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara to great effect.

Jurgen Klopp had severe injury problems for this contest – as well as the continued absence of Ilkay Gundogan, his entire first-choice back four were out injured. 34-year-old Manuel Friedrich, previously without a club, was drafted in to play at centre-back.

Guardiola was without Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger, however, and used Phillip Lahm in midfield.

The scoreline exaggerates Bayern’s dominance – for long periods Dortmund competed well, but Bayern simply had greater strength in depth. Read more »

Manchester City 6-0 Tottenham: Spurs’ centre-backs constantly exposed as City run riot

November 25, 2013
Manchester City 6-0 Tottenham: Spurs’ centre-backs constantly exposed as City run riot

Manchester City continued their superb home form with a crushing victory over Tottenham.

Manuel Pellegrini fielded his expected line-up – Martin Demichelis continued at the back, in the absence of Vincent Kompany.

Andre Villas-Boas used Erik Lamela from the start for the first time in the Premier League, and played Aaron Lennon over Andros Townsend. He also used Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul together at the back, for the first time in the league.

City went ahead within 15 seconds and were completely dominant throughout the game. Read more »

Everton 3-3 Liverpool: amazingly open game, and goals from set-pieces

November 24, 2013
Everton 3-3 Liverpool: amazingly open game, and goals from set-pieces

Positive tactics and awful defending combined to create a goalfest at Goodison Park.

This is Roberto Martinez’s first-choice XI at the moment, with Leon Osman only on the bench.

Brendan Rodgers switched to a cautious 4-3-3 system, with doubts over Daniel Sturridge’s fitness meaning Luis Suarez played alone upfront. Joe Allen came into the midfield, with Jordan Henderson moving right. Jon Flanagan made a rare start at left-back.

This was quite a contest – and while the defending was often terrible, there were also some interesting tactical decisions from both coaches.

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Sweden 2-3 Portugal: Ibrahimovic 2-3 Ronaldo

November 22, 2013
Sweden 2-3 Portugal: Ibrahimovic 2-3 Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo produced an extraordinary performance to win this play-off almost single-handedly.

Erik Hamren named an unchanged starting XI from the first leg, which finished in a 1-0 Portugal victory.

Paolo Bento’s side had one change – Hugo Almeida had made the difference in the first leg as a substitute, so replaced Helder Postiga upfront

It’s difficult to remember a contest that had been promoted  so much beforehand as, essentially, an individual battle between two players. Football isn’t an individual sport, of course, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo lived up to the pre-match hype, and completely dominated their sides. Read more »